Monahons honored with Peterson Medal

Peterborough couple killed in January car crash receive prestigious award for service to town

PETERBOROUGH — Architects Rick and Duffy Monahon, longtime residents who served the town faithfully in both official and unofficial capacities, were honored posthumously with the Walter Peterson Medal at Town Meeting earlier this month. The medal is named in honor of the former New Hampshire governor who also served as the town’s moderator for 27 years.

At the May 15 meeting, Francie Von Mertens shared the words of a number of Peterborough residents about the impact the Monahons had on Peterborough.

“Devotion, integrity, compassion, citizenship, respect and honesty are the words used to describe the Peterson Medal award,” wrote former Peterson Medal recipient Roland Patten. “When we think of Duffy and Rick, these words fit. No one was more dedicated to the town of Peterborough and through their efforts they made changes that resulted in Peterborough being the town that it is. They made their mark. By honoring Duffy and Rick with this award, we will long remember their efforts and strive to bring their goals to fruition.”

The Monahons died in late January in a two-car accident in Hillsborough as they were returning home after a day of skiing. Their loss hit the town hard, Von Mertens said, because they were deeply involved in so many ways.

“Duffy started the town’s Heritage Commission, was a founding member of the Agricultural Commission,” Von Mertens said. “Rick chaired the Planning Board, was on the Capital Improvements Committee; the Master Plan Steering Committee. Rick was a leader in saving the Baptist Church building after it burned. A wrecking crane literally was on the way to town. It’s now the Mariposa Museum. Both helped save the Sage House when the library was going to tear it down for parking. And so very much more.”

Von Mertens quoted Select Board member Joe Byk’s words about Duffy: “In the early ’90s, there was a push to rezone as commercial our beautiful gateways into town. But Duffy evangelized the revitalization of our downtown. At times she was like a lone wolf howling in the dark. Now the Depot Square area is architecturally beautiful and economically vibrant, an integral part of our downtown. This was the Monahons’ vision of preservation and smart growth, co-existing.”

Von Mertens noted that the lone wolf fortunately had a partner, quoting others who described how the Monahons made a wonderful team.

“While Duffy was ever the idealist and believed in the power of what’s right, Rick was always practical, thoughtful,” wrote Anne Pelletier. “He also was positive; I think of that quality as an aspect of his particular nobility — he was optimistic, good humored, respectful, open to ideas and willing to work with whatever was on the table — ever the gentleman.”

“Rick cared equally with Duffy about preservation and conservation, about the importance of place and space, but approached the issues quite differently,” wrote Maude Salinger, a longtime Zoning Board of Adjustment member. “He tended to advocate from inside the system, never more so than when he served and eventually chaired the Planning Board. He was thoughtful, listened carefully, seemingly cautious — at least compared to Duffy. He was a perfect foil for Duffy.”

Von Mertens concluded her presentation with words from Walter Peterson’s wife, Dorothy Peterson: “I was very pleased to learn that the Walter Peterson Medal for this year was to be awarded to Rick and Duffy Monahon. I know the choice would please Walter as well. The Monahons loved Peterborough and as individuals and as a couple they fought for what they believed would preserve it and make it even better. We miss them.”

“And, Dorothy voiced what is so true,” Von Mertens added. “How much we would have preferred to have them standing here to receive this award.”

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